« AnteriorContinuar »
sheep forward. Slowly they came until near the goal; then, before man or dog could stop them, all three bolted past, and fully half a minute was lost in bringing them back.
"At last, by coaxing ever so gently, they were taken to the pen, and two were passed through the narrow entrance and penned. The third, however, turned at the critical moment and bolted.
"Time was nearly up; but a few seconds remained. Could the animal be recovered before those seconds had passed?
"The spectators held their breath and watched intently; the time-keeper stood, watch in hand, ready to call the fatal word Time,' while the man and the dog were working with nervous energy. It was a race against the second-hand of a watch, and the odds were in favor of the second-hand. Fortunately the two sheep in the pen had remained there, so the undivided attention was given to bringing in the third, which had run about fifty yards before Laddie could turn it. Back they came, the driven and the driver, until once more they were close to the pen. Then the dog dropped down, with his head on his paws, watching the sheep as it stood near the narrow entrance.
"Nearer and nearer came the man, with arms outspread, while the dog crawled on his belly toward the staring, panting sheep. Once the sheep turned, as though to run, when, quick as a flash, Laddie stood up and took a step forward, ready to cut off the retreat; but the sheep, thinking better of it, turned toward the pen, and, after hesitating a moment, slowly entered, one second ahead of time."
Our friend Laddie, however, did not win the prize on this day. It went to an old dog named Jack, "who gave one of the finest exhibitions of the day, making some wonderful retrieves, keeping his sheep well in hand while he completed the course and the penning in seven minutes and thirty seconds."
MOVEMENTS OF BRAINLESS ANIMALS.
HE purposefulness and control of the movements of animals from which the brain has been wholly or partially removed is the subject of a paper by Dr. L. Merzbacher, in the last number of the Archiv für die gesammte Physiologie des Menschen und der Thiere.
What the physical basis of consciousness is, and how bodily activities are incited and controlled, are questions which have always both interested and eluded learned men. The Chinese held the belief that the stomach was the seat of the mind. In later times the doctrine of the
spirits prevailed among European nations, according to which thought and motion were caused by a fluid that passed out from the brain through a system of tubes in the body and back to the brain again. After that scientists took up the study of anatomy, and mere theorizing became unpopular. From anatomical studies it seemed that the brain was a great mass of nervous material that exerted a controlling influence over the body, responded to stimuli, and originated impulses which were conducted through the body over nerves extending out from the brain. We are now turning away from this extreme view of the controlling influence of the brain, in the light of certain experiments made upon. animals with mutilated brains, and with the present diversity of opinion the scientist may say with the poet that he has come "Wo er nichts Festes zu erfassen weiss."
For the studies described, a number of frogs were chloroformed, their skulls opened, and parts of the brain removed, after which the frogs were cared for until they recovered. Those frogs from which the cerebral hemispheres and optic thalami had been wholly removed were able to use their legs as well as before, making all cus. tomary movements, and coördinating the move. ments with each other. Operations upon both the brain and the posterior roots of the spinal nerves that extend into the legs produce a marked effect upon the movements, the hind legs doing as they will, sometimes acting in harmony with the fore legs, sometimes not, or each leg would move independently without regard either to the fore legs or to the corresponding member on the opposite side.
In a number of frogs the sensory roots of the nerves supplying the hind legs were cut through. When only one side is operated upon, the frog is usually ready to spring away immediately after the operation, the only difference being a slight tendency of the foot and lower part of the leg to cling to the thigh. If the legs do not assume the right position at once after the spring, they usually do in a short time. When both sides are operated upon, the effects are more pronounced and of a different nature, showing that the movements of one extremity are affected by the movements of its mate on the opposite side; that the sensibility and motility of one foot induces equally strong reactions in the opposite mem
This influence which the mobility and sensi bility of one side exerts on the other has its parallel in human pathology, as shown in cases of one-sided paresis, when one limb can be moved only when similar motions are made at the same time by the other.
The writer finds three sources of control for every member. Parts of the brain, the sensibility of the extremity itself, and sympathetic influence exerted by the sensibility and motility of the corresponding organ opposite. The regulaThe regula tion through sensibility is relatively strongest.
THE WHITE ELEPHANT.
HE Glory and Decadence of the White Elephant" is the title of an article by M. Henry de Varigny in the Bibliothèque Univer· selle, from which may be gleaned some curious details as to this favored one among his kind.
The white elephant, as is not perhaps universally known, is not white at all,-only of lighter hue than his fellows, his hide being light or reddish gray. A perfect specimen should have pink eyes with yellow iris, hide of a light brownish red, and the interior of his ears and trunk, as well as his nails, should be white, and his hair red. But Europeans are unjust in attributing the epithet "white" to Oriental exaggeration, as the error is that of translators having an imperfect knowledge of the fine points of Eastern vernaculars. The truth is," says Pyana, in a recent article in the Imperial and Asiatic Quarterly Review, that the term of white elephant does not exactly translate the Siamese or Burmese word which indicates the color of the animal. In Burmese, for instance, they say sin pyu, sin meaning elephant. But pyu, although meaning white, has also other acceptations, such as gray, light, less dark. It is used to characterize the lighter complexion of a native woman less dusky than her countrywomen without being even remotely to be confounded with a Caucasian. Besides, the Burmese often use the expression sin nee, meaning red elephant. In Siamese the animal is called chang pueuk, chang being equivalent to elephant. Pucuk, which formerly meant white or light, is now only used in the sense of albino. Thus we see that the native expressions are erroneously translated by white elephant; the correct term would be light elephant."
THE WHITE ELEPHANT IN MYTHOLOGY.
According to the Buddhist legend, before assuming the human form of Gautama, the founder of Buddhism, Buddha lived in the form of a white elephant; so, in all probability the prestige of the white elephant dated much further back than Buddhism, else he would not have been chosen as the precursor of Gautama. Indeed, the elephant had his place in the Indian pantheon since the most remote periods. Indra was always represented as mounted on an elephant, who shared
in his divinity; and in the ancient worship of the sun, the white elephant and the white horse were considered emblems of the sun himself. Inspired, doubtless, by reminiscences of the solar myth, there is a Vedic tradition that at certain long-separated periods in the existence of the world, a universal monarch makes his appearance on earth. He is of celestial origin, and the initiated recognize him by varied and numerous signs. For the feet alone there are thirty-two signs. Besides physical signs, this miraculous. personage possesses seven particularly precious accessories, and the chief of these is a white elephant. Without the white elephant, all claims lack authenticity. Hence it is easily understood why the different kings of the Indo-Chinese region and of the Buddhist countries,—each deeming himself the only authentic descendant of the ancient Vedic kings, all cherishing the hope of becoming the legendary universal monarch,consider the white elephant an indispensable possession, and have done and do all in their power to procure him, by hook or by crook,-by crook preferably, because it is the surer way.
But the true country of the white elephant is Indo-China. There his prestige has been longest maintained. There the proudest orders of knighthood bear his image on their regalia; there he still majestically represents the national antiquity and glory on the royal banner. The travelers who visited Siam and the neighboring regions in the sixteenth century bear witness to this veneration in many passages. When the Trojans were fighting because of a woman, many Orientals waged war to gain a white elephant, and even about 1650 there was continual strife between the Siamese and the king of Pegu because of seven white elephants the latter coveted.
HONORED IN HIS OWN COUNTRY.
Only twenty-five years ago the lot of the white elephant in Siam was an extremely enviable one. A party of hunters discovered a very good specimen. The news spread, and the whole country went wild with delight. The king immediately dispatched an escort of great personages, whose duty it was to mount guard around the animal, which was tied by silken ropes in the forest where he was found. For, like his ordinary brethren, the white elephant has to undergo a course of taming and domestication before he is brought to the capital. Professionals instructed him in etiquette, and the great personages served as guard of honor. Meanwhile, people flocked from all directions to see him, bringing presents and invoking for him the divine protection. He was then conducted in royal pomp to Ayuthia, special roads having been built from the place of
DARWINISM AND EMPIRE.
UR readers will remember how Mr. Rhodes evolved the idea of imperialism from what he believed was the fundamental principle of Darwinism. Mr. Ramsden Balmforth, in the Westminster Review, writes on the subject of "Darwinism and Empire," without referring, however, to Mr. Rhodes. He maintains that Darwinism and the evolutionists have been father to the doctrine which they would have been the first to repudiate. The average man is apt to think that fittest means best, whereas it really means that which is best adapted to the conditions of its environment. The idea that fitness and selection can be determined by strength, military power, cunning, or even intelligence is inadequate, for the environment of man, the moral or spiritual shell in which our lives are cast, demands morality, an ever-ascending type of morality, from us, or we perish. As Darwin himself says, a tribe rich in moral qualities would spread and be victorious over other tribes, and its social and moral qualities would tend slowly to advance and be diffused throughout the world. According to evolutionary ethics, it is with nations as with individuals: nor strength nor cunning, nor intelligence alone, but character determines fitness.
What kind of character is it, then, asks Mr. Balmforth, which determines fitness? Not, he answers, the pushful, cunning, trading character, or the self-righteous, proselytizing character, but rather the restrained, self-contained character, which is content with a modest competence, which seeks righteousness rather than gain, which keeps its word even to its own temporary hurt, and which is the friend and defender of weak and struggling nationalities. Mr. Balmforth does not think that England's policy either in South Africa or in China has been such as to promote the survival of the highest types of character. In both countries England was the original aggressor. And to attempt to persist in securing success is to promote the survival of a low filibustering type of character. It is no use for Englishmen to say that they have gone so far they cannot turn back. Nature will allow no excuses of that sort. The farther we go in a wrong direction the greater will be the distance over which we shall have to retrace our steps. England's war policy has not the test of fitness, which natural selection itself imposes-a test of character. Without it England would ultimately have triumphed more completely than with it, and the policy has been a decided set-back to the moral development of the race.
In China things have been even worse. Hence he thinks that true statesmanship on Darwinian
principles should aim at bringing the will, intelligence, and moral ideals into quickened activity and emulation, rather than the lower powers and activities which seem to bring out the latent instincts of the ape and tiger. The wisest states. men are those who set their faces like a flint against the policy of war, and who, by conciliation, by conference, by arbitration, by respect for national rights, by international deputations and congresses, bring the best thought of each civilization into sympathetic contact with that of the other, and seek to resolve the conflicting elements of each in the harmony of the higher unity, and to promote the peace of the world and permanent welfare of mankind.
THE PYGMIES OF CENTRAL AFRICA.
N the Atlantic Monthly for August, Mr. Samuel Phillips Verner has an unusually readable article on The African Pygmies," whom he has visited and studied in their native town in Central Africa, on the Kasai River, a tributary of the Congo. These are the true pygmies of Herodotus, the fabled dwarfs of Ethiopia. The little folk lived in a city called Ndombe, ruled over by a king of the same name. There are about 5,000 in the city, and 300 more around it. They dwell in little huts shaped like a beehive, with an opening on the side at the bottom, barely large enough to admit their bodies crawling. Although a fullgrown negro could not even lie down at full length in such a house, one of them suffices for a pygmy and his whole family, sometimes consisting of a wife and half a dozen children.
The pygmies are occupied almost solely in hunting and fishing, their chief weapon being a bow and poisoned arrows. These arrows have no heads except the mere sharpened point of bamboo, but they are dipped into a vegetable decoction which is one of the most fatal poisons known, and which produces insanity or death almost immediately, even if the arrow makes not much more than a scratch.
The pygmy community is ruled by a giant king, Ndombe, who stands six feet six inches in stature, with broad, square shoulders, Herculean limbs, and massive statuesque features of a distinctively Egyptian cast. Mr. Verner says he has never seen the man's physical superior. He has thirty-one wives and over forty children, and his family connections are so extensive that they occupy a whole town. The pygmies themselves, however, do not usually have more than one wife. The clothing of the little negroes was the most primitive imaginable. The children and some of the women went nude, and the most elaborate costume amounted to nothing more than a yard
of palm fiber around their loins, this garment being obtained from the other natives.
The average height of fifty grown men of the Batwa village was fifty-one and seven-eighths inches, or four feet and nearly four inches. Seven of these were less than three feet and nine inches high, and five of them were over four feet six inches. women to submit to measurement, but eight of them, mothers of families, averaged forty-seven and three-eighths inches, four inches shorter than the men. The prevalent color was a light chocolate brown. The older men wore scanty beards.
The head of the pygmy is of the brachycephalic order. The mean cranial index of the skulls of eight adult males was eighty-one degrees. The nose was small, but more aquiline than that of the real negro. The mouth was large, and the chin usually receding. The hair was of a lighter color, almost a shade of brown,-and was kinky and woolly. Their hands and feet were small and well shaped, the hands in particular being delicately formed. In proportion to their size, their strength far exceeded that of all the other Africans. Their powers of endurance on the march or in the chase were phenomenal. Fifty miles a day was an ordinary march for them, and they were almost as much at home in the trees as the monkeys themselves. The senses of the pygmies were unusually acute. At quite a distance, they could distinguish the chameleon from the foliage in which it was hidden, notwithstanding the fact that the color of the little animal coincided with that of its hiding-place. Much of their quarry was discovered through the powers of the nose, and it is no exaggeration to say that the pygmies' sense of smell was as keen as that of their dogs. They were such shots with the bow that I have seen one send an arrow through a rat at twenty yards, while it was running across the village. The Bantu would spear fish as they leaped from the water, or darted among the rocks in the streams.
Mr. Verner cites the scientific fact that no traces have been found of any human beings prior to the pygmies. It is certain that the little people have apparently preserved and enjoyed a physical entity for five thousand years. He does not attempt to decide between the various hypotheses as to the origin of the pygmy race, some holding that the ancestors of the pygmies were larger men, and that the present dwarfs are a degenerate race, and others that the pygmies have been unchanged from their creation. It is interesting to know that the Kasai valley has recently been opened to steam navigation, a steamboat for the river having been built at Rich
mond, Va., and that the ethnologists will have a good opportunity of making a thorough study of the peculiar race of men.
It was very difficult to persuade the MR. WILLIAM ARCHER contributes to the
AN ENGLISHMAN'S PLEA FOR A NATIONAL THEATER.
written statement of the case for national theaters. By this he means that theaters should be created in every center of population, which would not be conducted simply for the benefit of individuals, but should be held in trust for the public at large by some representative body, which, directly or indirectly, should control them. As libraries, museums, and picture gal leries are public institutions, so the theater, ought to be one of the intellectual glories of the English-speaking race, must also be a public institution. The drama flourishes best in countries like Germany and France, which treat it as a public concern.
THE COST OF THE MODERN THEATER.
Mr. Archer points out that for any play to succeed it must attract at least 50,000 spectators in the course of three months. Plays that do this succeed, plays that do not fail. What chance, asks Mr. Archer, would there be of Mr. Meredith or Mr. Hardy being able to place a new novel before the world if they had to find fully 50,000 purchasers in the course of three months, incurring an initial outlay of from £1,000 to £3,000, and to publish a fresh edition every day at a cost of £100? The conse quence of the theater being run solely as a money-making institution is deplorable. Mr. Archer says:
Can it be doubted, for instance, that 'musical comedy,' English and American, does more than ten thousand pulpits can undo to glorify and enforce the sporting, gambling, barhaunting, champagne-drinking, flashy, and dissolute ideal of life which dominates that class of production? Do we not see whole regiments of young men modeling themselves in dress, manners, vocabulary, and, as far as possible, in morals, upon this or that popular comedian whose leering inanities they regard as the last word of human wit?"
MR. ARCHER'S SUGGESTION.
This, indeed, is a canker of the commonwealth. In London musical extravaganza has almost completely swamped the higher forms of drama. It is a political force, and draws the whole Englishspeaking world together in the bonds of racial
ELEVATION OF THE GERMAN DRAMA.
N the first quarterly issue of the Forum, Mr. John Corbin contributes an account of the present condition and prospects of the drama in the United States. By way of contrast he pic. tures theatrical conditions in Germany:
The theatrical situation in Germany is geographically the same as in America, that is to say, there are many widely separated cities, each one the seat of a vigorous civic spirit. The commercial basis of the German theater, however, is the direct opposite of that in America. The origin of the theater was not in the great mass of the public, but in the more intelligent portion of it associated with the royal courts of Germany. In Munich, Stuttgart, Vienna, Berlin, and many other capitals there are theaters which, like the Théâtre Français, are supported in part by the national treasury. These theaters are what we should call local stock companies of the highest character; and for more than a century they have given frequent productions of the best dramas in the literature of the world, ancient and modern. Modeled upon these, in the lead
ing commercial cities, stock company theaters have been founded which depend for support on the municipality, and even on private subscription.
HEALTHFUL VARIETY FOR ACTORS AND PUBLIC.
"No sooner has a play proved successful in one German city than it is rehearsed and put on the boards in all, thus becoming a part of the repertory of twenty or thirty different companies at once. This does away at a stroke with such organization of booking as is at the root of the commercial evil of the American theater. It also does away with the long run, which is the root of our artistic evil, for the rules of the theaters generally require that even the most successful pieces shall not be played more than four times a week, in order that the rest of the time may be taken up with revivals of the classics and with productions of new plays. The actors are thus Denefited by constant variety. In spite of this, nowever, a play is in the end given as often as there is a public to witness it, runs of one and two hundred performances being perhaps as frequent as in America. It is true that in any particular city the returns to the authors and the managers come in more slowly, but this is more than balanced by the fact that the play runs simultaneously in all the leading cities. In many other ways this system is superior to ours. The author has a score of managers to whom to offer a new play. The actor, when his abilities warrant, travels as a guest from this theater to that, availing himself of the local company and of its stock scenery. The public is constantly able to see the best old plays, and at the same time every novelty of the season. Even the mercan tile classes share in the general profit, for a large floating public of well-to-do people is attracted by the great educational advantages which a repertory theater offers.
GERMAN ACTORS IN THE UNITED STATES.
"As for America, or at least English-speaking America, no one who knows the conservative power of established organization, even of the worst, will look for any early duplication of this system. As far as the German-speaking public is concerned, the system is to be seen in full operation: there are vigorous and successful repertory theaters in New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, and Milwaukee, and every season great German actors, such as Possart, Sorma, Odilon, Bonn, and Sonnenthal, make the tour of all these theaters as guests. But it will be many years, it is to be feared, before this admirable example is imitated by the English-speaking. public."